There now 40 picks in the books and we are now roughly 2 days removed from that final pick being made, so it feels like a good time to look back at the three days of the draft holistically. You can read some earlier thoughts on Day 1 and Day 2, as well as all of the picks on the Draft Tracker, but I wanted to take some time to talk about this group as a draft. Maybe starting today we will get some signing news and those will trickle in for the next month as the Phillies look to complete what will be a draft class. For now let’s ignore that and think about the players and the strategy.
To start, I love the Phillies first three picks. They found three high school players that combined both floor and ceiling. As I have said in many places, I don’t know if Mickey Moniak was the top player available, but I do think he was in that discussion, and I think it is plausible the Phillies thought he was the #1 player. Kevin Gowdy is a really nice pitching prospect and Cole Stobbe could be real value at the start of round 3. The combination of the three is not quite Correa, McCullers, and Ruiz or Bregman, Tucker, and Cameron, but that route really was not available to them.
Which is why I want to talk about a trend that seemed to emerge over the draft. The Phillies did not waste picks. Under the new draft rules team take seniors in rounds 9 and 10 to save money (sometimes you get good prospects here as the Phillies have the past two seasons in Josh Tobias and Matt Hockenberry), and in past year or two teams have done that all the way up into the 6th round. The only player on Day 2 that would fall under this might be 9th rounder Blake Quinn who is a red shirt junior and might be slightly underslot, but he is also a solid arm who may start or relieve, but with 95mph fastball he is interesting nonetheless. In the 10th round they took a draft eligible sophomore in Julian Garcia who should be a starter at least to begin his career. Once you get into Day 3 it is much the same with them taking only 6 seniors in a time where teams are taking cheap seniors to fill out their rosters. Taking juniors in the pre-10th round may cost them some money to spend later, but in reality they spent it on good talent early. As for later, anything under $100,000 does not count against your pool, so if you can afford to spend it (which every team can) getting an interesting college junior for $75,000-$100,000 vs a college senior for $5,000 could be a big win. We will see what comes of it for the Phillies.
As for Day 3 overall, they didn’t take any of the really big names demanding couple million dollar bonuses, but none of them are signing anyway. Instead they lead with Josh Stephen another prep hitter whose best asset is his hit tool. The Phillies have a higher projection on his power than the industry, but even then he was a 3rd or 4th round talent. I thought it was really smart to follow that up with two projection HS RHPs that they know will sign. There were certainly better HS pitchers on the board that may or may not have signed (and they took some of those later), but there is something to be said about getting what you want in the draft. Both Justin Miller and Andrew Brown don’t look particularly special, but they are projectable and young, and you can turn that over to your player dev to work with.
I found it interesting in interviews that Johnny Almaraz mentioned seeing some of the power bats on the board and gravitating to them. Darick Hall (14th) and Caleb Eldridge (20th) both have big power, and power has come at a premium recently, if they can get both to sign that is to decent lottery tickets. Speaking of taking hitting, the Phillies took 3 college catchers in the draft in Henri Lartigue (7th), Brett Barbier (16th), and Daniel Garner (32nd) all of who really hit this year and half questions about whether they are catchers.
Day 3 started off with the Phillies taking 3 straight HSers, but they did a nice job of sprinkling in some potential tough signings throughout the day. Kyle Young (22nd) was already mentioned as a target by Almaraz, and you can see why as he is a skinny, projectable 6’10” LHP already up to 91. Logan Davidson (30th) seems like he will need a lot money to sign as a similar player to Josh Stephen and could be a backup plan, but he is a HS SS that could stick at the position. Davis Agle is out of a JuCo, but he is all projection and has drawn rave reviews post draft. The Phillies ended their day with 3 tough signs. Trevor Hillhouse (38th) was thought to be a Day 2 signing as a big projectable LHP, he had a workout with the Phillies so there may be something there. Dante Baldelli (39th) is almost certainly going to school, but it is a nice try. I am intrigued by Trey Morris (40th) as he is really young, but has already shown there may be premium velocity in his arm. Without having inside info, I would guess they make a serious run at Young and then maybe get 1-2 of the rest of the HSers they took.
For me the two most interesting picks on Day 3 were Jake Kelzer (18th) and Jackson Klein (33rd). Kelzer has a major league future in a bullpen as a 6’8″ righty that found both control and velocity in the bullpen. He is not a big time arm, but a potential major league reliever in the 18th is interesting. Klein is a center fielder drafted as a pitcher. He has no pro future in the field as he just can’t hit at that level, but he was up around 90 in a short stint out of the bullpen last summer. That is intriguing arm strength for a guy who has never focused on pitching. There may be nothing there, but it should interesting to follow.
It is hard to say anything definite about Day 3 picks, but I thought the Phillies drafted some actual talent. There are not many picks among the 40 where you can say “the guy will be out of pro ball by the end of the summer”. Given how they started the draft, if they can had Stephen and a couple other HSers, while also getting most of the juniors they will have done very well. I know it is not the franchise altering talent at the top that many envisioned when the Phillies got the #1 pick, they did come away with what looks like the best group of talent of any team, and that is about all you can ask for in these circumstances.